Where pride and industry meet
By Archbishop Dr John Holder
When on November 30 we sing with gusto and passion the following words of our National Anthem, “These fields and hills beyond recall are now our very own”, they will, no doubt, generate in us a warm feeling of national pride. It is a feeling that can energize us to push ahead along the road of Independence, commenced some 48 years ago.
There have been many outstanding achievements along the way. We can point to positive developments in areas like education, health, business and Government. We can identify improvements in housing, transportation and communication as some of the indicators that, as a nation, we have moved steadily on in our development since 1966.
For all that we have achieved we thank Almighty God. He has truly been our guide and support along the way.
At this point on the road to further development, we are however faced with many daunting challenges: the cries for a just settlement of their condition by those who were recently laid off from one of our Government departments, the many questions raised about our delivery of adequate health care, the issues of garbage collection, the matters related to Government finances, the concerns about public transportation, the violence that is surfacing far too often. These are just some of the areas of concern.
Our national pride that we highlight at this time, the challenges we face as a nation, and the hope for a better future seem to clash, providing a mixture of emotions that can be as volatile and destructive as they can be reassuring, creative, and full of hope. Each Barbadian, caught up in the swirl of these emotions should enter into this period of national celebration with at least three commitments.
The first is a commitment at the individual level to identify what can be done to address some of the challenges we face. Take the garbage issue as an example. The question each Barbadian should ask in relation to this issue is: how can I make a more significant contribution to the management of this problem? For surely the cause of the problem rests not only with the Sanitation Department, but must be shared by each Barbadian.
We need to commit ourselves to assist in the development of the solutions to the problems we face, and not simply lay blame. Here is where the pride and the industry meet and we can work together for a national cause, aimed at making our country better.
The second commitment is one to influence and encourage our family and those close to us to do all they can to make this beloved country of ours stronger and better. If as individuals we reflect the level of commitment mentioned above, then we should share it with those close to us.
What we also need to share with our families is the conviction that, as citizens of this country, we not only have a right to receive, but an obligation to give back. This should be cultivated in our children at an early age. They should be taught, for example, that access to the benefits of life provided by our country is not simply a right to be enjoyed, but one that carries some very great responsibilities which we should never ignore.
One of the primary responsibilities of each national should be “to make a contribution to the development of my country that has provided me with the many important things influencing my personal development”. The question therefore that each of us needs to ask ourselves as we celebrate another anniversary of Independence is: “What am I giving back to my beloved country, that has given me so much?”
The third level of commitment is that of the wider community, and the nation. We all like to boast that we are proud Barbadians. We like to point to the characteristics that clearly distinguish us from the rest of the world. As we move into another year of Independence, and embrace anew our motto of Pride And Industry, we must ask ourselves some questions about how we can continue to build on the proud resilient Barbadian spirit which we celebrate at this time.
We must continue to explore how we can draw on it to help us manage the many challenges facing us as a nation. Pride And Industry must be far more than just a “feel good” sentiment. It ought to be a foundation upon which we can continue to build our nation.
The pride that we sing and boast about should be reflected in, for example, the way we take care of our public buildings, our bus terminals and our schools. It should be reflected in the way we use our roads, in our use of our water and other resources. It should be reflected, as well, in the way we greet and relate to one another and to the visitors to our island.
This nation is the only one most of us can call home. It is a great gift of God. In our time, it is our responsibility to take good care of it, and to pass it on, in a far better shape than that in which we found it.
Let us go forward with the hope that working together we can master the challenges we face at this time. Let us work to ensure that in the long run we are far better in many ways, because of the lessons we have learnt from our current experiences.
May God continue to bless and guide us in this beautiful land.